Details - Interview to Carlo D’Orta
How and when did you first take up photography?
«I fell in love with photography 35 years ago, thanks to a reflex Pentax that my girlfriend of the time – now my wife – gave me as a graduation present. For two decades I’ve been taking pictures with the passion of a traveller, but developing my technical skills, through studies and advices I got from some good teachers, but always sticking with a traditional reportage style. Then I attended the painting classes at the Rome University of Fine Arts, improving my knowledge of contemporary art. I also did a master in photography at the IED, in Milan. This immersion - intellectual and practical at the same time - into contemporary art really changed my approach to photography. The paradox is only apparent. Thanks to my studies in art, when looking through my camera I was no longer looking at reality. What I was seeing was another world, made with decontextualized details, shapes and lines, chromatic combinations that often ended up in pure abstraction. This was a turning point for me, also professionally. This way of mine of “painting with the camera”, although it springs from the real world, turned out to be a very personal language, which satisfies me and strikes those who love photography,».
Can you speak of the photographs in our collection?
«Those photos are part of the series Geometrie Still Life. It’s a series that has a lot in common with Biocities: they both tell stories about urban skylines, represented as though they were an abstract painting. The difference is that Biocities focuses on the contemporary architectures of the past 30 years, whereas Geometrie Still Life is about classic architectures of the Mediterranean tradition. I’d like to stress that the photos of these two series are not collages, but the result of a combination of a particular position and a strong prospective compression obtained through powerful zoom lens. I avoid long-shots, the explicit realism and the immediateness of comparisons. On the contrary, my photos widen the nature of details, and bestow them with independency. The subjects of my photos lean towards abstractism, but this is just the first step to take in order to re-interpret our cities and countries as textures, as urban skins supplied with continuous flows of blood, as modular planes of an urban genome».
What does photography mean to you?
«To me, photography is like painting. What I mean is that whenever I put my camera before my eyes I no longer see objective reality, nor I’m interested in representing it in an impersonal way. I see the subjects of a painting, either abstract of figurative, which I try to turn into elements of a visual poem. Through my camera, I search what the human eye usually doesn’t catch, because it gets distracted by the visual buzz around. I look for the poetry and the music that can be found in the details and that usually go unnoticed, taken over by the continuous and overwhelming visual stimulations. I look for the magic, simplicity and purity of essential shapes. Sometimes, like in Vibrazioni e Traslazioni, I look for the mystic explosion of the color and the movement crystalized in the shot».
What’s your technique?
«Digital photography. The first stage entails working with a Nikon D800 and a zoom lens Nikkor 28-300. My main goal is to identify perspectives, angles and architectural details that can turn my painting-like vision into shapes and colors. Then, I work on the photo editing. Sometimes this is a great part of my work, sometimes not, but in both cases the editing is always limited to colors and light and aimed at making an atmosphere, a contrast, a chromatic game more effective. I know from the beginning what I want to obtain with my paintings-photographs, from the moment I’m choosing a position and a frame, but the creative process only comes to an end with this second stage of the work. I never change the physical aspect of a subject: my form of art is photography and I don’t want to end up doing digital graphic».
Are you inspired by any photographer/artist, from the past or present?
«As I mentioned, my research in photography is about echoes of artists that characterized the art movements in the first and second half of the XX century, especially abstract artists. My main references are Malevic, El Lissitzky, Mondrian, Rotchko, Peter Halley and Franco Fontana’s photography. The echoes of their art, which I truly love, have an influence on my own artistic vision. Through my eyes, I just sense things; but as soon as I look through my camera, my mind starts re-interpreting reality through an abstract language, which I learnt from these artists. Hence my frames or my choice of using a depth of field that can perfectly suit the image I’m building up in my mind. This is especially true for Biocities e Geometrie Still Life, but also for the series of art installations called (S)Composizioni-Metafora della Vita, where I conceptually mixed up Cubist de-compositions and Freud and Jung’s psychiatric research. In other series, such as Vibrazioni e Paesaggi Surreali, one can also see that I was inspired by other art movements, like Futurism, Expressionism and, of course, Surrealism».
What are you working on right now? Any future plans?
«I’m working on some new art installations for the series (S)Composizioni-Metafora della Vita and on new images for my projects Biocities and Geometrie Still Life. Furthermore, the project of holding an exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore next January is getting real. It will feature my Vibrazioni series, accompanied by art jewels and art watches inspired by my images and created by two artists who work in these fields, Gianluca Castaldi e Riccardo Zannetti. In the next six months I will also hold personal shows in the art galleries of Rome, Florence and Milan».